Are you feeling bold? Everyone likes to find the next trendy sleeper in the middle rounds of drafts, but what about those fliers you take with your last couple picks? When a fantasy manager hits big late, the value return is massive and can be the difference between being a playoff team and having your season end early—plus, the bragging rights are fun too.
Let’s take a look at a quartet of wide receivers that have the potential to have a significant impact on your fantasy team if things break right. To qualify as a deep sleeper, the player must have an ADP outside of the top 200 (meaning they’re undrafted in most leagues).
Hunter Renfrow, Las Vegas Raiders (ADP: 201, WR67)
Although Renfrow’s current ADP represents his WR61 finish in PPR formats last season, it’s important to note that he got stronger late in the season. From Weeks 8-17, Renfrow ranked as the WR17 with an average of 15.4 fantasy points and 6.4 targets per game. He was the WR2 over the final two weeks of the regular season with a combined 45.9 fantasy points.
The addition of former Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs III in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft certainly doesn’t boost Renfrow’s value, but I don’t anticipate Derek Carr just ignoring him, either. Ruggs will take over the 46.6 snaps per game Zay Jones averaged last season when active with the Raiders and will do a whole lot more with that playing time, but Renfrow will remain Carr’s true check-down option and will flash in the right matchups.
Josh Reynolds, Los Angeles Rams (ADP: 262, WR84)
Reynolds is being overlooked because the Rams are expected to use more two-tight end sets this season after the emergence of Tyler Higbee late last year. Between Higbee, fellow tight end Gerald Everett, and wide receivers Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods, there doesn’t appear to be too much work for anyone else. Except, all of those players have been with the Rams over the last two seasons alongside Reynolds, who has performed quite well when he was the WR3.
Since 2018, in games where either Kupp or Brandin Cooks (who has since been traded to the Houston Texans) sat out or left in the first quarter due to injury, Reynolds is averaging 3.2 catches, 49.3 receiving yards, and .55 touchdowns on 6.0 targets per game. While that may not look like much, that averages out to 11.4 PPR fantasy points—Adam Thielen and Preston Williams both averaged 11.4 PPR points last season. That output would’ve been good enough to finish as the WR42 on a per-game basis in 2019, above players like Curtis Samuel, D.K. Metcalf, and Mike Williams. Reynolds will be the full-time WR3 in 2020.
Jalen Hurd, San Francisco 49ers (ADP: 313, WR92)
While many are scrambling to draft first-round rookie Brandon Aiyuk in the wake of Deebo Samuel’s injury, I’m more intrigued with Hurd’s potential upside at his post-300 ADP. He missed his entire rookie season in 2019 with a stress fracture in his back, but he’s been cleared to return and has a chance at a significant early-season role until Samuel returns from his broken foot.
Hurd is a complete dart throw, but he’s a former college running back turned wide receiver that can be a Swiss Army Knife for Kyle Shanahan. Assuming Aiyuk is a starter, Hurd just has to beat out Trent Taylor, Kendrick Bourne, and Dante Pettis for snaps. That’s certainly not a given, but Hurd was a high third-round pick that fits the type of player Shanahan wants to have on offense. Keep an eye on him leading into the season.
Russell Gage, Atlanta Falcons (ADP: 320, WR94)
It seems like everyone has forgotten about Gage in the time between last year’s late-season waiver wire pickup columns and now. The Falcons’ No. 3 wide receiver performed fairly well down the stretch following the team’s trade of Mohamad Sanu. In nine games, Gage caught 45 passes for 402 yards and one touchdown on 66 targets. He ranked as the WR48 with an average of 10.3 fantasy points per game in PPR formats.
Gage will be the WR3 for a pass-heavy Falcons offense heading into this season. He played more than half of his team’s offensive snaps in all but one game after the Sanu trade last season. He won’t be a league-winner or anything, but he’s a solid bench option worthy of flex consideration in two-flex formats in certain matchups. Yet, he’s barely being drafted as a top-100 wide receiver.